To every thing there is a season…a time to keep silence, and a time to speak. Ecclesiastes 3:1,7
We all face the question in our own minds, whether to put up or shut up. Speak or be silent. Let rip or stay schtum. Our base instinct is to shout the odds at the thing that hurts and annoys us, or perhaps the person that has crossed the line we have drawn in the sand. We all wrestle with that one many times, and I think we fail wise Solomon’s measured advice.
There certainly is a time to speak out, and confront evil because Jesus tells us to beware of false teachers and prophets in the Gospels, but that is not to be used as a licence to shoot from the hip every time something or someone crosses our own personal line, opinion, or feeling.
This very dilemma troubled me recently. My initial reaction was to confront the source of my disagreement both in person and content. Fortunately, I allowed some time to pass while the issue percolated in my mind and I am glad it worked out that way. Not because I had changed my mind, far from it, because I still feel the same about the person and the problem it gives me, and most likely some other folks looking on.
In war we talk about collateral damage. Not the direct hits, or the intended targets, but the property and people who were on the edges of the line of fire. Bringing this issue up in a public arena would have affected a group of people who a) might have disagreed anyway, or b) had not seen the original problem, and now knowing it, might take their own action and walk away. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for that outcome, and c) my own reputation and standing could be tainted and tarnished for all time.
The final, and most important consideration for staying silent is that it allows the person who caused my own worry and concern, to move on, and perhaps allow them to change. In His infinite wisdom, God has granted me grace when I have failed Him, so I must give grace to others. Of course, they may not believe they did any wrong, and a public outing makes any change (if it was seen as necessary) unlikely. On a personal and more human front, if the same thing happened again, I would come to another conclusion. Once bitten, twice shy as the old saying goes!